Following Microsoft acquisition, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick to leave in January 2024

Bobby Kotick Activision Blizzard
(Image credit: Activision-Blizzard)

What you need to know

  • Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick became involved a massive scandal back in 2021, with accusations that Kotick new of sexual harassment claims and allegations of rape at the company. 
  • Amid the scandal and widespread calls for Kotick's resignation, Activision Blizzard agreed to be bought by Microsoft for $68.7 billion, announcing the deal on Jan. 18, 2022. 
  • Now that the deal is complete, Kotick has confirmed he will be staying on as CEO through the end of the year. 
  • Kotick is departing on Jan. 1, 2024, a radical change Activision Blizzard and the gaming industry as a whole. 

A massive change is coming to the gaming industry.

Microsoft finalized its acquisition of Activision Blizzard on Oct. 13, 2023, adding studios like Infinity Ward and Blizzard Entertainment to the Xbox first-party roster. In a memo to employees, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick shared that he will be staying on through the end of the year.

"I have long said that I am fully committed to helping with the transition. Phil has asked me to stay on as CEO of ABK, reporting to him, and we have agreed that I will do that through the end of 2023," Kotick writes. "We both look forward to working together on a smooth integration for our teams and players."

When he departs in January 2024, Kotick will have served as the CEO of Activision Blizzard for 33 years. Kotick became embroiled in scandal in 2021, with a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. Kotick was later accused of threatening to have an employee murdered and of helping to cover up harassment at the company. 

Hundreds of employees staged walkouts and demanded Kotick's resignation. While the board stood behind Kotick, these events damaged the stock price of Activision Blizzard, an event that helped encourage Microsoft to reach a deal to buy the company for $68.7 billion. 

Analysis: Good riddance

It couldn't come soon enough. Every Activision Blizzard employee I've spoken with in the last year has been at minimum cautiously optimistic about this deal, with one of the primary factors being the departure of Bobby Kotick. Yes, he will be getting a lot of money as he is bought out from the company, but this was the only way he was going to go.

The unfortunate reality is that no matter how much hand-wringing comes as people say he should've been forced to resign, he wasn't going to. The board was behind him, a man who turned around an almost-bankrupt Activision Blizzard and saw it become one of the biggest third-party gaming publishers in existence through the strength of the Call of Duty brand, as well as mergers that brought in Blizzard Entertainment and King.

When Kotick leaves, employees at Activision Blizzard will be able to engage in unionization efforts without fears of reprisal. There's a lot of questions moving forward, but this is a bright spot in an uncertain industry. 

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.